In this article, we will discuss what the term ‘Sattvic’ means and understand why sattvic diet is so important for all yoga practitioners. Furthermore, we will explore with what attitude one should eat, cook and act. Mindfulness about how much to eat, when to eat and how to eat and prepare food needs to be developed.
What Sattvic means?
According to yoga and Ayurveda, everything in the world is made out of Gunas, including the mind, body and soul or consciousness. All three of them are present in different quantities in our internal and external world and define the different qualities of energy in prakriti (physical matter). The gunas are the constituents of everything we are able see, feel, touch or experience.
The three gunas are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. They also define and reflect our health, behavior, thinking and diet.
Gunas interact through predominance. We all have all three gunas, but their proportion differs. Tamas guna is required for adequate rest and sleep, Rajas guna is necessary for work and action and Sattva guna for knowledge, fulfilling aspirations in life and balance. A yogic way of life aims to increase the Sattva guna to nurture consciousness via healthy body and mind. The goal of yoga can be achieved only in Sattvic predominance.
Our environments and foods we ingest impact us on a physical, mental and spiritual level.
The Chandogya Upanishhad explains that the coarsest part of the food we eat passes out as feces, the subtler part becomes flesh, and the subtlest part becomes the mind. Again, it states:
āhāra śhuddhau sattva śhuddhiḥ (7.26.2)[v1] “By eating pure food, the mind becomes pure.”
The reverse is also true—people with pure minds prefer pure foods.
What is Sattvic Diet?
The Sattvic diet (pure and balanced) is believed to increase energy, produces happiness, calmness, and mental clarity. It could enhance longevity, health, and spirituality. According to Maha Narayana Upanishad (~5000 B.C.) it promotes a life expectancy of 100–150 years and it is recommended for “Saints”. All foods included in this diet are fresh, juicy, nutritious, and tasty, thus including the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, sprouted grains, roots, tubers, nuts, cow milk, curd, and honey. The sattvic dietary pattern appears to be similar to a modern but carefully-selected dietary pattern. A sattvic food will become tamastic when over processed, kept for a longer period or deep-fried.
“Susnigdhamadhuraahaaraschachaturthanshavivarjitah Bhujyate shivasamprityeh mithaarah saa uchyate” (Hathapradipika-1/58) “Eating sweet and unctuous food offered to the almighty leaving one quarter (of the stomach) empty this is known as Mitahara”.
Yogic texts also state that eating food in moderate quantity (mitahara) is recommended- no overeating, no fasting.
Sattvic Food Principles
According to yoga, the food should be living, wholesome, plant-based and water-rich.
Follow the eight guiding principles to ensure the food you eat has the power of healing:
1.ORIGIN- Regional foods that are fresh and ripe, rather than imported foods, are the best choice.
2. TIMING- The season, the time of day, and your phase of life all tell you which foods are best to eat. In winter, meals should be rich and nourishing; in summer, light and cooling. Make lunch your biggest meal.
3. QUALITY- Food should be organic and fresh. Avoid processed and
prepackaged foods and meals.
4. QUANTITY- Don’t eat too much or too little. Fill your stomach half with solid food, one quarter with liquids, and leave one quarter empty- mitahara.
5. COMBINATION- The body’s ability to digest is affected by how different foods are combined.
6. PREPARATION- You are not what you eat, but what you digest. Naturally grown food that is properly prepared—ideally heated or cooked—is easiest to digest and absorb.
7. ATHMOSPHERE- The atmosphere you cook and eat in, and the state of your mind while cooking and eating play an important role. Cook in a clean, positive environment.
8. YOUR MINDSTATE- The healthiest food can become poison if eat in a hurry, stressed,
Why Yogis Must Be Vegetarians?
Yes, yogis should follow lacto-vegetarian sattvic diet in moderate quantity with a strict routine. It is ok from time to time to ingest rajastic food- when sick or during certain events, but tamastic food must be totally avoided. Here are some of the reasons:
Gunas- A Sattvic diet is of great importance for achieving Sattva guna predominance and a balanced state of mind at all times.
Prana- Sattvic diet increases prana.
Nearly all yogic texts point the importance of Sattvic food for reaching higher levels towards the goal in yoga.
Ahimsa- "Ahimsa paramo dharma"- Non-violence is the ultimate duty.
Compassion (Karuna)- a prime quality of yoga practitioners.
Health- Scientific researches show that people following a balanced vegetarian diet suffer less often from cardiac conditions, have lower cholesterol, are less obese, and their immunity levels are higher.
Earth Protection- The growing human population is straining the earths resources. Our planet can provide enough for everyone is we all switch to plant-based diet. This will also reduce the negative impact of meat production such as harmful gas emissions, water waste and pollution and unexpected viral infections going from animals to humans.
This was all for today from our simplified explanation of Sattvic diet. We hope that we brought you more understanding on the subject. Leave us a comment below if you've enjoyed this article or if you want to add more points on yogic food that we may have missed.
Stay balanced and sattvic,